Taxonomy and systematics are still in need of much work in many algal groups, and for accurate biodiversity assessments, correct taxonomy is essential. My main group of interest are the green algae, in which there still are many unanswered questions that students can explore. Such projects will involve sample collection from nearby habitats, culture isolation, microscopic and molecular species characterization, and resolution of phylogenetic relationships among species and genera.
While the macroscopic flora and fauna of many regions is well documented, novel species of microbes are discovered every year even from commonplace habitats. Over the course of my career I described over 20 new algal species, genera and families and while algae commonly are thought of as aquatic organisms, much of my research focused on soil algae, including desert-dwellers. Terrestrial algae, such as the tree-bark dweller Trentepohlia below, are severely understudied and new species continue being discovered every year.
Further, I am greatly interested in isolating new algal strains from the alpine soils of the White Mountains, which likely harbor unique extremophilic algae.